Sovereign National Conference: North set for showdown

VANGUARD Newspaper

LAGOS—The North has set machinery in motion in preparation for a conference to discuss the future of the country under the aegis of a Sovereign National Conference or forum of any sort, it emerged yesterday.

From the left, Yobe State Governor Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam; Taraba State Deputy Governor Alhaji Abubakar Danladi; Sokoto State Deputy Governor Alhaji Muktari Shagari and Plateau State Deputy Governor Ignatius Detong during the National Economic Council Meeting chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo at the Aso Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida 05/03/2012
Concerned northerners including governors, politicians of different hue, academics and other professionals were, yesterday, segmented into 10 committees to articulate the northern position in the eventuality of a national conference as is being demanded by some sections of the country.

The north’s move came as the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor of Niger State, M’uazu Babangida Aliyu yesterday insisted on his demand for the abrogation of the derivation principle in the allocation of revenue from oil exploited from the continental shelf.

The Northern drive is being spearheaded by the Coalition of Concerned Northerners, a body that has as members Governor Aliyu of Niger State, Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, former President of the Senate, Dr. Iyorcha Ayu and some of the leading lights of the region in the different professions.

Foremost of the committees formed yesterday by the northern group is the Constitutional Amendments, Revenue & Fiscal Systems, Structure of Nigeria Federalism which is to be headed by Prof. Awaulu Yadudu who served as Special Adviser to Gen. Sanni Abacha as Head of State.

The group which emerged following a meeting in Asokoro, Abuja on February 23rd had given its support for the restructuring of the Nigerian Federation at the meeting “in the hope that the lopsidedness in the structure of the nation’s politics and economy will be a key agenda issue.”

Among those present at that meeting that day were Governors Aliyu and Lamido, the convener of the meeting, Dr. Junaidu Muhammed, a former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, a former Deputy Senate President, Dr. John Wash-Pam, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, former Ministers, such as, Dr. Shettima Mustapha, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri and Malam Lawal Batagarawa and a former Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council, Prof. Nur Alkali.

One of the north’s leading voices and newspaper columnist, Mohammed Haruna in a circular yesterday gave details of the northern arrangement which he said “is structured in a way to prepare the region to face the challenges facing the Nigerian Federation.”

Haruna publisher of the defunct Citizen Newspaper and then spokesman of former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, is Chairman of the Media Committee. The affairs of the committees are to be supervised by a coordinating committee which comprises all Governors that are involved, former President of the Senate, Senator Ayu, former deputy President of the Senate, Senator John Wash Pam, erstwhile former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, Director General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Engr. Mansur Ahmed, erstwhile Special Adviser to Gen. Sani Abacha as Head of State, Prof. Auwalu Yadudu, erstwhile Minister of Finance and presently Senator representing Kaduna South, Senator Nenadi Usman, erstwhile Minister of Agriculture and Defence and presently chairmanship aspirant in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Shettima Mustapha, Managing Director of the defunct FSB Bank, Mohammed Hayatuddeen, the incumbent deputy Governor of Kogi State, Yomi Awoniyi, the immediate past Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, Engr. Hamman Tukur among others.

The other committees and their chairmen are Interfaith Dialogues and Inter – Community Harmony (Senator John Wash Pam); Security (Mahmud Yayale Ahmed); Education (Prof. Nur Alkali);Economics, Policy Frameworks, Strategic Investments & Infrastructure (Mal. Sanusi Abubakar); Agriculture, Water Resources & Mineral Investments ( Dr. Shetimma Mustapha); Constitutional Amendments, Revenue & Fiscal Systems, Structure of Nigeria Federalism (Prof. Auwalu Yadudu), Youth Strategy & Contacts Committee ( Dr. Sule Bello) and Borno Dialogue Committee (Dr. Babangida Aliyu).

The northern group, Vanguard learnt yesterday, was preparing itself for any eventuality as it had not shied away from the challenges of a restructuring of the federation.

Besides the preparation for a national conference, the northern group is also preparing to address issues presently unsettling the region, notably the scourge of Boko Haram. It has, set up a committee headed by Governor Aliyu to explore the prospects for peace.

“Yes we are also inclined to self-help on some local problems like that of religion that is now unsettling the region and that is why we have raised a panel to address the problem now in Borno State,” a member of the group told Vanguard yesterday on the basis of confidentiality because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

The source further admitted that the group emerged to fill the vacuum following the failure of some northern groups including the Jamatur Nasil Islam, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN or even the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF to play a unifying role in pursuing the interests of the region.

“Our group is coming up because not one group in the region has been able to play the role that we have now assigned ourselves,” the source said.

Niger gov insists on abrogation of derivation principle for off-shore oil
Meanwhile, Governor Aliyu yesterday insisted that revenue accruing to the country from oil drilled 200 nautical miles off-shore should be available to all beneficiaries of the federation account.

Speaking while receiving a delegation of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, (ICAN) led by its national President, Professor Francis Ojaide in his office in Minna, Dr. Aliyu, however, debunked insinuations of his opposition to the principle of derivation.

According to him, the principle of derivation was ingrained in the constitution and should as such be upheld.

He, nevertheless, canvassed the review of the revenue formula saying that it is supposed to be periodically reviewed.

“I am not against the principle of derivation because it is a Constitutional Provision. The Appeal Court only ceded the derivation revenue accruable from oil wells within the on-shore to the littoral states and the Supreme Court has equally made a pronouncement on this issue. It is therefore wrong for government at the centre not to honour the Supreme Court Judgment.”

Lamenting the delay in the review of the revenue formula, he said: “In some countries the review is done every five years but in our country, it is 10 years and we are not even reviewing it. Even if we are not going to change the provision or the sharing formula, what the law says is that the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission should forward to the National Assembly for a review every 10 years,” the governor stressed.

He also stressed the need to devolve more power from the centre to the states and the local governments across the country, adding that both the states and local government areas need more funds to prosecute their programmes especially since these arms of government are closer to the people.

President of the Institute, Professor Ojaide had hinted the governor on plans by the body to establish an Accountancy School in Minna, the state capital and solicited the support of the governor for the success of the project.


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